Jack Nicklaus has backed Rory McIlroy’s decision to miss this week’s Memorial Tournament and predicted the world number one will not do so too often in the future.
With Nicklaus founding and hosting the event at Muirfield Village, most of the world’s top players usually make the trip to Ohio to effectively pay tribute to the 18-time major winner.
McIlroy missed his second consecutive halfway cut at Royal County Down, despite saying he felt “refreshed” following a similarly early exit from the BMW PGA Championship, but Nicklaus has no issues with the 26-year-old sticking to his schedule after playing five weeks in succession.
The Northern Irishman – who has played in the Memorial every year since making his debut in 2010 – wrote to Nicklaus to explain his decision, only to bump into the man himself at the Bears Club near his home in Florida.
“He came to me and talked to me and said he was in a pickle,” Nicklaus added.
“I said ‘Rory, don’t worry about it. You and I are very close, we have no issues.
“If you have stuff you gotta do in Ireland, you got to do what’s right for you. You gotta get yourself ready for the US Open’.
“And that’s fine with me. And from the way I handled it, I don’t think you will see Rory miss here very often.”
Speaking before the Wells Fargo Championship last month, McIlroy said: “I have played the Memorial every year since coming over here so he was happy and I told him I’m already looking forward to the event next year.”